Importers asked to comply with new customs bond requirement for transit goods

A Bureau of Customs (BOC) official is enjoining importers and other concerned stakeholders to comply with the new guidelines on the implementation of the general transport surety bond for transit goods.

The implementing guidelines can be found in Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 30-2020, or “Guidelines for the Implementation of the General Transport Bond thru the Automated Bonds Management System (ABMS).”

CMO 30-2020, issued in December last year, provides the implementing rules for BOC- PEZA Joint Memorandum Order (JMO) No. 1-2015, according to Vince Fajardo, Attorney III of the Bonds Division at the BOC-Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
JMO 1-2015 requires Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) locators to post a general transportation surety bond or GTSB to guarantee their goods will be delivered directly and immediately to the free zone.

The GTSB is a kind of customs bond, which is a facility that binds the importer, who is the principal, and the surety company to jointly or severally pay the BOC should the importer default in its obligation.

Fajardo in an online presentation explained that BOC normally does not release dutiable goods unless the duties and taxes have been collected.

“However, it may allow the release prior to payment of the corresponding duties and taxes provided a bond is posted to guarantee the payment of said duties and taxes.”

The customs bond serves a dual purpose, he added. On the importer’s part, it facilitates the importer’s business operations, eases the company’s cash flow and reduces operational costs.

For the government, the customs bond assures the government that the items for manufacture and/or export are actually used in the manufacture of exportable goods, goods bound for a free zone are not unlawfully released to the local market to evade duties, and duties and taxes are collected.

The Automated Bonds Management System (ABMS), meanwhile, is a bureau-wide system for processing bond transactions. The ABMS was established pursuant to CMO No. 14-2012, and essentially monitors and ages bond balances and flags those that have matured.

Fajardo said the ABMS is being implemented to effectively monitor the status of bonds from posting up to cancellation and to expedite the collection of due and demandable bonds.

He explained that the establishment of ABMS is a big help as previously, the processing of bonds was done manually by the agency. It also removed the need for BOC personnel to under-guard transit shipments, as this was a costly and time-consuming activity that required too much customs manpower.

CMO 30-2020 gives detailed instruction to declarants, brokers, importers, accredited value-added service providers (VASPs), surety companies and BOC personnel on the customs processes to be observed under the ABMS for GTSB.

Among its guidelines for implementing ABMS are the following:
The surety company should apply for GTSB at the port where the goods are discharged. The GTSB can only be used at the port it was applied for and the port must be explicitly specified when creating a bond account with the VASP.
The approved transit bond policy can be applied to multiple electronically lodged goods declaration­as long as the policy bond has sufficient funds or available amount
Only the approved bond policy can be used on the Terms of Payment upon filing of the Transit Single Administrative Document (TSAD) in the E2M system
Bond credit as payment instrument shall be used
Upon registration of the TSAD, the ABMS shall change the status of the bond policy to CHARGED.

Fajardo said that failure of the importer to cause the timely arrival of the GTSB-secured containers at the designated destination without valid reason “shall be sufficient ground for the forfeiture of the bond.”

And for any shipment that does not arrive at the destination PEZA location, BOC may draw upon the bond up to the amounts of duties, taxes, surcharges and other amounts due.

To check the available balance of the bond policy or monitor transactions made, the importer may refer to the BOC website and click on GTSB.

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